The United Arab Emirates’ first Mars mission has returned its first picture of the red planet.
The Emirates Mars Mission, known as the Hope Probe, arrived at the red planet on Tuesday and successfully entered orbit on its first attempt.
“The transmission of the Hope Probe’s first image of Mars is a defining moment in our history and marks the UAE joining advanced nations involved in space exploration,” Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan said alongside the image on Twitter on Sunday.
“We hope this mission will lead to new discoveries about Mars which will benefit humanity,” he added.
The arrival of the spacecraft to Mars made the UAE as only the fifth country in history to reach the red planet – and a first for the Arab world.
The Hope Probe – which is kitted out with three scientific instruments – will create the first complete portrait of the Martian atmosphere. The instruments will collect atmospheric data points, as well as gauging seasonal and daily changes, which will help scientists to understand what climate dynamics and weathers are like in the different layers of Mars’ atmosphere. Experts also hope to find out more about how energy and particles – like oxygen and hydrogen – move through the Martian atmosphere.
Hope Probe was one of three Mars missions that launched last July, along with NASA’s Perseverance rover, which will land on Mars on February 18, and China’s Tianwen-1, which successfully entered the planet’s orbit on Wednesday.
Hope will orbit the planet, Tianwen-1 will orbit the planet and land on it, and Perseverance will land on Mars.
All three missions launched around the same time due to an alignment between Mars and the Earth on the same side of the sun, making for a more efficient journey to the red planet.